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CO Detectors are now Mandatory for New York Business Owners

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Nelson’s Law: Up to $1,000 Fine for New York Commercial Building Owners That Don’t Install and Maintain CO Detectorscarbon monoxide

Most people get to take Saturdays off, but not Steve Nelson. No, as the general manager of Legal Sea Foods, a popular restaurant in Huntington Station on Long Island, Nelson couldn’t afford to take one of his busiest days off. On Saturday, February 22nd, 2014, he was ready once again for the weekend crowd. He didn’t know it would be his last.

The flue pipe in the basement’s water heater was leaking carbon monoxide. Nelson went to use the basement bathroom and never came out. 19 others who were in Legal Sea Foods that day had to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, including Megan Smith, the assistant manager who passed out when she went downstairs to check up on Nelson. All survived except Nelson.

“It was madness,” said an anonymous Legal Sea Foods employee. “[Smith] went downstairs to inspect and disappeared. That’s when we knew something was wrong. People kept disappearing down there.”

Nelson’s tragic death inspired New York to make their businesses safer. In late December of last year, Governor Cuomo signed a new law that requires every restaurant and commercial building in the state of New York to have carbon monoxide detectors by June 2015.

And now it’s June. Any retail business or any other sort of commercial enterprise better get their CO detectors now if they haven’t done so already. Any failure to properly install or maintain will result in fines up to $1,000, jail time up to 12 months, or a combination of those two penalties.

But remember, this isn’t about avoiding fines and other penalties. More importantly, installing and maintaining CO detectors is an easy way to prevent needless tragedy and make sure what happened to Nelson (and the approximately 450 people who die every year from CO poisoning) never happens to you or your coworkers.

Contact us at (716) 822-7000 or for more information about carbon monoxide legislation and prevention. 

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